Banana Bombs, A Contest, and New Friends

Banana bombs are aptly named. They’re an explosion of deliciousness since they’re full of ripe bananas, gooey dates, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla, oats, and smooth chocolate chips. I got to share banana bombs with the world (or rather with some people from my city) this past Saturday for the Incredible Edibles cooking contest sponsored by our local paper.

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About a month ago, there was an ad in the paper to enter a recipe into the “Incredible Edibles” contest for a chance to make your recipe for judges and potentially win a prize! I thought, “Why the heck not enter?”

I couldn’t find a reason not to, so I entered two recipes- my peanut butter carrot muffins in the “baked goods” category and my banana bombs into the “simple and quick” category.

I kind of forgot about the contest until a few weeks ago when a woman from the paper called to tell me that my banana bomb recipe had been selected as a finalist for the “simple and quick” category! I was to compete for the grand prize by making my recipe in the local community college’s fancy kitchen and presenting it to judges. The recipe would be judged on both taste and presentation.

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My parents and I loaded up the car last Saturday morning and headed to the kitchens downtown where the competition took place. I took my mom with me because a) we could bring someone to help us, b) a guardian had to come with me because I’m under 18 years of age. We signed in, unloaded our supplies, and I got baking! We had to bring all of our ingredients and utensils (food processor, baking sheets, oven mitt, spatula, cookie scoop, etc.), but the paper gave us a gift card to reimburse us for the ingredients.

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Crafting in the kitchen. Thanks for the picture, Sue and Dave!

Other finalist recipes were chorizo breakfast burritos, egg toasts, a french toast bake, stuffed mushrooms, meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting (so innovative!), cheesy zucchini bites, and a fancy dip displayed in bread bowls. I participated in the morning session of the contest along with eleven other finalists participating in four categories (appetizers, side dishes, simple and quick, and breakfast). Twelve other finalists in four other categories made their dishes in the afternoon.

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I made three batches of banana bombs. **Side note: I used to call banana bombs banana balls but bombs sounds cooler.**

I made one regular batch (with chocolate chips), one batch with walnuts and chocolate chips, and one “almond joy” batch (with coconut and chocolate chips). I like the add-ins, but I’m partial to the original batch because I love oodles of chocolate chips.

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Once I was done making and baking the bombs, I arranged them in a visually-pleasing way for the judges. We had two hours to make and arrange our food, which was more than enough time for me, but some people finished plating their food in the nick of time (it reminded me of the TV show “Chopped”). We were stationed next to a woman who also finished with some time left (hi Sue!). She made a delectable-looking veggie toast appetizer, and it was fun to get to know her and her husband while baking.

Sue’s appetizer- spicy cream cheese sandwiched between pastry dough and topped with zucchini and onion. 

Once everyone finished plating their food, the three judges went around the large table our food was at and tasted every dish in each category (there were three finalists per category). It was intense- the judges had scoring sheets and everything! I was “against” creamy pumpkin soup and a chicken/ avocado/ rice dish in my category.

Left- one of the side dishes. Right- the chicken avocado dish I was “against.”

We got to try all the dishes as the judges agreed on the winners. Unfortunately, my dish was the only vegan dish, so I just ate a bunch of banana bombs (sorry not sorry). All the other dishes looked really good though!

Two of the three breakfast dishes- egg toasts and baked french toast.

As we finished eating, the judges came in and an announcer declared the winners of each category. My new friend Sue won the appetizer category! The pumpkin soup was the winner of the simple and quick category.

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Above- the judges tasting all the food. Below- one of the judges tasting my banana bombs!

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The set-up of the room. 

After the awards, two of the three judges (who were local food professionals and chefs) pulled me aside and said that they were really impressed with my banana bombs, but they didn’t really fit into the category since soup, rice, and banana energy bites aren’t very similar. Because of this, the banana bombs didn’t win. However, the judges ended up giving me the honorable mention! **Insert 20 more exclamation points here!!!**

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My recipe will be in the paper on March 4! I’m PUMPED. 

Hooray for recipe contests, new friends, and BANANA BOMBS.

They make life good.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for- the banana bomb RECIPE! I actually published it on my blog in November 2014, but I’ll post it here too so you don’t have to open a new tab.

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BANANA BOMBS

MAKES 18-21 COOKIE SCOOP SIZE BANANA BALLS

  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled
  • ½ cup pitted dates (about 12 dates)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups oats
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • optional add-ins: 1/4 to ½ cup each of coconut flakes, walnuts, raisins, cranberries, peanut butter chips… really whatever your heart desires! I like to do batches with 1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes and ½ cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup walnuts and ½ cup chocolate chips, and batches with ½ cup raisins instead of chocolate chips to change it up.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Blend together everything except the oats and chocolate chips in a food processor. Then add 1 and ½ cup of oats and pulse in the food processor for 5 seconds or so. Take out the food processor blade and mix in the remaining oats and the chocolate chips (and possibly your other add-ins). Scoop onto a cookie sheet with a cookie scoop or a spoon and bake for 13 or 14 minutes. When they come out of the oven, let them cool for about 5 minutes, then enjoy!

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Have you ever been in a cooking contest of any sort? If you were to be in one, what recipe would you make? Link it up in the comments- I’d love to see!

xx Ellie

P.S.- Happy Leap Day! There’s an interesting article about Leap Year HERE if you’re interested. Have a great “bonus” day!

banana bombs

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27 thoughts on “Banana Bombs, A Contest, and New Friends

  1. demeter | beaming baker says:

    Ellie!!! I’m so proud of you for being a finalist in the Incredible Edibles contest! 🙂 It’s so amazing too that you ended up getting an Honorable Mention. Make sure you post a pic on March 4 of your Banana Bombs recipe in the newspaper (wow) on this blog. I really want to see it! Too bad you couldn’t try the other entries, but what a great experience. Side note: Bombs really does sound so much cooler than balls! Haha. Happy Leap Day, Ellie. And congrats again! xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • peanutbutterandellie says:

      Thanks so much, Demeter!
      I will post the article. It was a fabulous experience, and I think I’m going to try to veganize some of the recipes there so I can still try them!
      Haha I’m glad you think “bombs” sound better than “balls.” It’s definitely a less dirty term 😉
      Thanks again! xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • demeter | beaming baker says:

        Can’t wait! You should totally veganize those dishes! One of my favorite things to do is veganize the seemingly unveganizable. Lol. Okay, now I feel like I’m just making up words. Haha. Less dirty indeed… 🙃 Big hugs to ya, Ellie! xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Life Diet Health says:

    How very exciting Ellie! You will post a copy of the article on Friday wont you! 🙂 Loving your bombs… I have a similar recipe (which I might just go and make now) which are definitely in the simple & quick category! I can’t think that I’ve ever been in a cooking contest but having been a chef previously, cooking for several hundred people at once, I can imagine the thought, preparation and anticipation required! You’ve also given me an idea for a fundraising activity… cooking contest on the way!!! 🙂 So excited and happy for you! 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ellie says:

    COngratulations! When I was in elementary school I did 4-H and each year we had to do presentations for judges. I remember I made Chex-Mix one year and banana bread another year. It was kind of nerve racking because we had to prepare a speech and explain what we were doing as well. It is like a food show!

    Liked by 1 person

    • peanutbutterandellie says:

      I had to look up 4-H because I’d actually never heard of it before! I wish we had a 4-H club nearby. It sounds fun. The presentations also sound so fun (but also nerve racking)! It seems especially great because it gets kids creating in the kitchen! Did you make the food and do the presentation all by yourself? If so, I’m very impressed with elementary school you!

      Like

  4. Be Sol-Ful Living says:

    Ellie!!!! That is super cool! Congratulations!!!! What a fun event – and those banana bombs look and sound fantastic. p.s. – ‘bombs’ does sound better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Natalie says:

    It’s like all my of Chopped dreams come to life!!! Omg that is the coolest thing! Banana bombs representing the vegans in all their bite sized amazingness. It’s a little silly of them to have put you in a category that didn’t fit, but oh well. If I had been a judge the oodles of chocolate part would’ve won me over in an instant! The extra chocolate chips on the side too, very nice touch 🙂 I’m so excited for you and for banana bombs making their big break into the world! Ahhh that is totally one of those things you apply for but never think will actually happen but then it did! Woohoo! P.S. bombs is a way cooler name! I love it, so catchy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • peanutbutterandellie says:

      Thanks so much, Natalie!
      Banana bombs: showing how good vegan can taste one ball at a time. And I’m glad you think “bombs” is cooler and catchier. It definitely SOUNDS better (aka more appropriate) than balls. 😉
      If you are ever a judge and I am a contestant in your contest I will FOR SURE make something chocolatey (maybe I’d make cupcakes with a chocolatey filling). Maybe your fancy Youtube will allow you to start a cooking show?? And I can be on it? 😉
      Those extra chocolate chips on the side (for decoration) ended up being consumed by my mom and I on the car ride home… we’re true chocolate addicts!
      I totally didn’t think I would be chosen… but then I was! It was so darn exciting!
      Thanks for reading! xoxo

      Like

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